A pair of measures that would reform the state campaign finance system, including barring Gov. Rick Scott and Cabinet members from raising money during Session, cleared a House panel on Wednesday with bipartisan support.
State Rep. Evan Jenne said his proposal, HB 707, is a “common sense rule” and not “an indictment or finger pointing” at the governor, who is widely expected to run for U.S. Senate, Attorney General Pam Bondi, Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis, who is running for a another term, or Agricultural Commissioner Adam Putnam, a Republican gubernatorial candidate.
“This is no indication of those four individuals, it is simply a matter of what is good for the goose is good for the gander,” Jenne said.
Both the Florida House and Senate prohibit members from accepting contributions during a regular, extended, or special Legislative Session. The proposal would add the same restrictions to statewide elected officials.
The proposal would make it a misdemeanor to accept a single political contribution and a felony if an individual solicits or accepts two contributions during Session.
In the vein of reforming the campaign finance system, state Rep. Frank White, who is running for Attorney General, championed a proposal that would repeal a 30-year-old state public campaign financing system.
“Most of you know that I am running for statewide elected office and if this does go on the ballot it would not affect my campaign whatsoever,” White said.
That measure cleared the House Oversight, Transparency & Administration Subcommittee. It would eliminate a system that gives statewide candidates taxpayer-funding matching dollars if they agree to limit their expenditures. Under the current system, outside contributions of up to $250 are matched and contributions above that amount are matched to $250.
“Our system dolls our millions of tax dollars to incumbents and other experienced politicians,” White said.
Speaker Richard Corcoran has pushed to abolish the system with the Constitution Revision Commission, which meets once every 20 years to propose changes to the constitution. Corcoran has called the public campaign financing system a “gross waste of taxpayer money” and “welfare for politicians.”
“You really have to be clueless or just plain selfish to accept money from our state coffers that could go to our school children, first responders, or be put back in the pockets of our taxpayers,” Corcoran has said.
Both measures have one more committee stop before they head to a full House vote.
If the measures are passed by the Legislature, they would be put on the 2018 ballot and would need 60 percent voter approval to go into effect.